CHaD Football Odyssey Raises $250K and Counting!
It began on a Friday and ended on a Sunday. It featured rain and lightning, and then classic New England summer weather – sun, heat, and humidity. It also delivered a typically outstanding game while raising a quarter million dollars to protect the lives of CHaD kids.
The 2017 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, powered by Bedford and Nashua Ambulatory Surgical Centers, was a game of firsts this summer. Scheduled on a Friday for the first time ever - June 30 – the players, fans, and volunteers were ready to go at St. Anselm College on the night reserved for high school football.
While the teams warmed up, a few hundred hungry souls enjoyed an outstanding barbecue courtesy of Tuckaway Tavern. Other fans checked out the merchandise, talked with our CHaD volunteers, or picked out their seat for the upcoming tilt. About 30 minutes before kick-off, Mother Nature changed it all.
Heavy rain and lightning forced the game into a delay that lasted over an hour from the original kick-off time at 7 p.m. When the players took to the field, it was only for a short time. One quarter and a Team West touchdown run by Bedford’s Nick Leahy were squeezed in before another lightning strike forced the creation of alternate plans. Those plans had the teams pack things up and return Sunday afternoon – July 2 – at a new venue, Manchester Memorial High School.
Resuming in the second quarter, Team West padded the lead with a 22-yard run by Lebanon’s Ryan Milliken. East followed with an 18-yard pass to Peter Navarro (Londonderry) and a two-point conversion to send the game into half-time at 14-8.
During the intermission, a moment of silence was held for two CHaD patients who lost their lives last year – Nick Harrington and Emma Bechert, both of Bedford. The young pair passed away months apart in the summer of 2016, leaving behind a legacy as ambassadors of CHaD. They both had a connection to the CHaD All-Star Football Game, and were memorialized with a sleeve patch that featured their initials – NH and EB.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third before West held on, thanks in part to the game’s first-ever field goal in the fourth quarter. The final score of 25-14 capped a wild two-day journey.
Despite the weather and the venue change, the game still raised an astounding $250,000 for the kids and programs at CHaD. The bulk of that money was raised through sponsorships with additional funds coming in from player fundraising, ticket sales, game day raffles, merchandise sales, and donations. In six years, over $1.5 million has now been generated for CHaD and Kristen’s Gift Endowment Fund, which benefits families and patients dealing with pediatric cancer.
The players once again counted for a large portion of the fundraising, combining for nearly $50,000. Team East won the team battle thanks in part to the game’s lead individual fundraiser, Exeter’s Tim Ramsay. With this year’s player efforts, the combined total of fundraising generated by the young men who play the game is over $370,000 in six years!
CHaD would like to thank Nick Vailas and our major underwriters, the Bedford and Nashua Ambulatory Surgical Center. Additional kudos go out to our sponsorship committee, game volunteers, and St. Anselm College for hosting the event.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that this game would not likely have been played to its happy conclusion had it not been for the City of Manchester and mayor Ted Gatsas. During Friday’s rain storm, the mayor arranged for the game to move to Manchester Memorial. The efforts of city staff, led by new athletic director Don Menswar and Manchester Central’s Tom Dolan, Memorial proved great hosts for the final three quarters.
Jim Schubert earned the win for Team West, matching East’s Craig Kozens as the game’s only two-time winning coaches. The West victory snapped East’s two-game streak and pushed their series lead to 4-2.
Merrimack’s Justin Grassini was named Bo Dickson MVP after leading three scoring drives without a turnover. His counterpart for East, Stevens (Londonderry) set a game record with 282 passing yards, tossing two touchdowns to his high school teammate, Navarro.
Milliken and Leahy combined for 165 of West’s 166 total rushing yards. Parker Smith led West receivers with four catches for 96 yards. On the East side, several records were set in the receiving department – receptions (6, three players); yards (Kennett’s Pat Cullen with 117 yards); and touchdowns (2, Navarro). Danny McKillop (West, Merrimack), Zac Garside (East, Londonderry), and Josh Thibeault (East, Timberlane) were all tied with a game-high nine tackles.
CHaD All-Star Football Highlights
Team West 25, Team East 14
- West leads all-time series, 4-2.
- Jim Schubert joins Craig Kozens as two-time CHaD champion head coaches
- Merrimack’s Justin Grassini earned Bo Dickson MVP honors
- $250,000 raised through sponsorships, player fundraising, ticket sales, raffles, and merchandise.
- Exeter’s Tim Ramsay was top fundraiser, generating over $5,300.
- Team West won the fundraising battle with nearly $25,000 raised.
- Liam Viviano of Winnacunnet earned the Dan Duval Community Service Award and a $1,000 scholarship.